Emergency Procedures for Assisting Individuals with Disabilities

Handling Emergencies

There may be an occasion when an individual's condition needs immediate intervention in the classroom/workplace. The most likely examples are seizures, diabetic shock (insulin reaction), and heart attacks. Should such a situation arise, call 911 immediately and have someone call Campus Security at (509) 527-2222. Give the building name, room number, and description of the emergency. Although an ambulance is usually not needed for most seizure incidents and insulin reactions, Campus Security may transport the person to the Health Services for additional treatment and observation until the crisis is under control.

Intervention Techniques

Until emergency medical personnel are on the scene, there are some intervention techniques that should be started. For heart attacks, CPR treatment should be started immediately if the person is not breathing. Such emergencies are rare, but it is best to be prepared, remain calm, and know what to do if and when the need arises.

Epilepsy First Aid for Seizures*
  1. Remain calm. Students will assume the same emotional reaction as the faculty or staff member. The seizure is painless to the person who is experiencing it.
  2. Do not try to restrain the person. There is nothing you can do to stop a seizure once it has begun; it must run its course.
  3. Clear the area around the person so that he or she does not injure him/herself on hard or sharp objects. Try not to interfere with movements in any way.
  4. Do not force anything between the teeth. If the person's mouth is already open, you might place a soft object like a handkerchief between the side teeth.
  5. It is not generally necessary to call a doctor unless the attack is followed almost immediately by another major seizure, or the seizure lasts more than about ten minutes.
  6. When the seizure is over, let the person rest if he or she needs to.
  7. Turn the incident into a learning experience for the class. Explain that the condition is not contagious and that it is nothing to be afraid of.

* Source: Epilepsy foundation of America

Building Evacuation

Walla Walla University calls to the attention of all individuals with disabilities the fact that no one else can look out for their well-being as well as they can themselves. Therefore, individuals with disabilities need to be responsible for studying and remembering the important parts of each building they are in, including exits, phone locations, and elevator procedures.

Students need to assume responsibility for asking several people in their classes to assist them if emergency evacuation becomes necessary. Faculty members who have students in their classes who might have problems leaving the building during emergencies should discuss procedures ahead of time.

A. Mobility Limitations
One of the biggest concerns in building evacuation is for individuals with mobility limitations:
  1. Elevators should not be used during a fire or earthquake.
  2. If there IS NOT imminent danger (no obvious fire or smoke) move the individual with mobility limitations to a fire-rated stairwell entry or other safe place and close the fire door until emergency personnel determine the nature of the situation. Officials may then decide that no evacuation is necessary, or they may remove the person by carrying him/her out of the building using special techniques and evacuation chairs. Someone should be designated to remain with the individual while the faulty member, staff member or residence hall staff person meets emergency personnel and tells them where the person is. Due to the risk of causing physical injury, it is extremely important that the person not be moved unnecessarily or improperly.
  3. If there IS imminent danger and evacuation cannot be delayed, the person with a disability should be carried or helped from the building, in the best and fastest manner. The disabled person is the best authority as to how to be moved out of the building. A person may be carried using a two-person lock-arm position or may sit in a stiff chair, preferably one with arms. The best procedure is to let professional emergency personnel perform the evacuation of these individuals.
 
B. Visual Impairments
Most visually impaired individuals will be familiar with the immediate area they are in. In the event of an emergency, tell the person specifically how and where to exit. Have the person take your elbow and escort him/her (this is the preferred method when acting as a "sighted guide"). As you walk, tell the person where you are and advise him or her of any obstacles. When you have reached safety, orient the person to where he or she is and ask if any further assistance is needed.
C. Hearing Impairments
Since individuals with impaired hearing may not perceive audio emergency alarms, an alternative warning technique is required. Two methods of warning are the following:
  • Write a note telling what the emergency is and the nearest evacuation route (e.g., "FIRE: go out rear door to right and down. Now!")
 
  • Turn the light switch on and off to gain attention, then indicate through gestures or in writing what is happening and what to do. It may be prudent to escort the hearing impaired person as you leave the building.
 
D. Additional Evacuation Considerations
  • Wheelchairs have many movable or weak parts that were not constructed to withstand the stress of lifting (e.g., the seat bar, foot plates, wheels, movable arm rests).
 
  • Some persons in wheelchairs may have electric artificial respirators attached. These persons should be given priority assistance if smoke or fumes are present, since their ability to breathe will be seriously jeopardized.
 
  • Some wheelchair users do not have strength in the upper trunk or neck.
 
  • If the wheelchair is left behind, remove it from the stairwell and leave it where it does not block others.
 
  • Remove the batteries from a power wheelchair before attempting to transport it. Make sure that the foot rests are locked and the motor is off.
 
  • If a seatbelt is available, secure the student in the chair.
 
  • If you are carrying a person more than three flights, a relay team may be needed.
 

For further information about Walla Walla University policies concerning accommodations for individuals with disabilities, consult the Reasonable Accommodation Policy for Students and Employees With Disabilities.

Page maintained by Sue Huett
Last update on August 9, 2011